What a weekend for Calder Valley Fell Runners!
Saturday saw the British inter counties championship take place in North Wales, on a tough 8 mile course with nearly 1,000 metres of climbing. With the five best runners from each county, it pits the cream of road, cross country, fell and mountain running against one another.
Calder Valley had two runners in the Yorkshire team, Ben Mounsey for the men, Holly Page for the women – and neither disappointed. The in-form Ben beat the very best of Britain’s fell runners to win the race in just over 60 minutes, describing it as “by far the biggest win of his career,” while Holly came an outstanding fifth in the women’s race, finishing in 73 minutes. Both led their teams to great results, with Yorkshire taking first men’s team and second ladies’.
Deciding against his trademark fast start, Ben says “I began the race at a sensible pace and many of the favourites hit the front at an alarming pace. I began to work my way through the field. I felt good and as we approached the summit of the first major climb Moel Eilio I found myself in 5th. At the top of the final extremely steep climb I began to follow the leaders but realised they were taking a poor choice of line and headed down at a different angle. When I hit the last checkpoint I had about 10 to 15 seconds of a lead and all that was left was a fast run in for about 1.5 miles down a rocky mountain path. I gave it everything I had and didn’t look back. I sprinted as fast and hard as I could and it wasn’t until the very last 100m that I knew I’d won.”
“I was so emotional at the end I was nearly in tears – I never believed I’d ever win an intercounties championship but I’ve actually gone and done it. To be crowned the UK’s number one fell runner and to do it whilst wearing the Yorkshire vest is quite literally a dream come true for me.”
The following day was the largest fell race in the UK calendar – the Calderdale Way Relay, expertly organised by the Halifax Harriers. 102 teams, each with 12 runners took part in the relay, which splits the 50 mile footpath into 6 legs, with pairs running each leg.
Calder Valley had an excellent day, fielding 6 teams. Despite a weakened team due to injuries and holidays, the men’s A team took third place, just behind Wharfdale and Barlick, completing the full 50 miles in just over 6 hours. Next in for Calder was the Mixed A, who won the second mixed team, in a little over 7 hours.
There were some stand out performances from Calder Valley runners. Gayle Sugden and Lucy Collins, in particular, smashed the women’s record on leg 6, taking over 3 minutes off the fastest time to complete the 10 mile leg in just over 1 hour and 16 minutes. Mark O’Connor and Jon Smith, meanwhile, recorded the fastest time of the day on leg 3, a tough climb without any respite, from Todmorden to Blackshaw Head.
With so many teams fielded by Calder Valley, there were some heroic runs from Mark Goldie, Ian Symington and Ian Glendinning, among others, who stepped in at the last minute or partnered with faster runners to ensure the teams could run. And for many runners, this was their first experience of one of the highlights of the fell running calendar.
Calder Valley team results:
Men’s A – 3rd – 6:08.12
Mixed A – 26th – 7:17.06
Men’s B – 34th – 7:26.39
Men’s C – 52nd – 8:06.11
Mixed B – 86th – 9:34.49
Mixed C – 87th – 9:38.13